In the last couple of months, I have had several individuals approach me – requesting help in starting their own nonprofit. After meeting with them and talking through their ideas, I’ve developed my recommendation, found below:
Before you request tax-exempt status from the IRS, may I suggest investing time and energy into thoughtfully considering your idea.
First, articulate your interests. What specific work are you passionate about? What impact do you want to make on the community? What is your vision of success? What cause do you want to fight for?
Now, identify organizations that are doing similar work. There are lots of nonprofits in the United States. Find organizations in your community that are doing work that is similar to your interests. Also, identify organizations that are doing work that is related to your vision for community impact.
Next, learn more about those organizations. What exactly do those nonprofits do? How long have they been around? What populations do they serve? What’s their geographic scope? How many employees do they have? What about volunteers? How big is their budget?
Then, clarify the scope of your desired involvement. Is starting a new nonprofit the right thing for you? Do you want to create a large organization or a small entity? Is it better if you get involved with an organization that already exists? Should you consider starting a new program for an already existing nonprofit? How much time and energy are you interested in investing in your cause?
Finally, determine if incorporation is appropriate. Lots of amazing people have made a positive impact without starting a nonprofit organization. Lots of amazing people have made a positive impact by starting and running a nonprofit organization. You can make a positive impact either way. Consider your interests and your preferred level of involvement.
Please leave a comment. Have you ever considered starting your own nonprofit?